Now that I know I have the potential to live for a few years longer, you’d think I’d stop thinking about death. No, not so much. Lately I’ve been wondering whether, by the time I actually die, however many years from now, people will be so bored of hearing about my wimpy leukemia that no one will show up for my sendoff. Oh well, I can’t control who comes to my final good bye, if anyone. I’ll just have to
live die with that.
Oddly enough, this train of thought was sparked by J.’s two grand retirement parties this week, to which I was graciously invited. Her workplace gathering was standing-room only (so what if there were no chairs?). J.’s not dying–far from it–but today when she packs up her desk, including her slinky weiner dog, she’ll be leaving a number of people who are going to miss her terribly, from what I heard and from the sentiments on the many cards she received. At the workplace party, her colleagues spoke glowingly about her contributions to the workplace, about how much she’s done to create a sense of community and mutual support, and about her effective work as a mentor and leader.
Retirement is a time for celebration (and cake, with icing–small piece for me, thanks), while it is also a time of losses, and I’m not referring to her paycheque here. J. will miss her colleagues as much as they will miss her. She was overcome with emotion as she spoke to her group of the great work they have done and how much they have meant to her. J.’s feelings run deep, but she shares her tears sparingly. I imagine her tears took everyone, maybe even J., by surprise.
As an outside observer, I was also struck by the spirit of fun amongst her workmates. Group picture in yoga poses anyone? These relationships go beyond those of colleagues; these folks are kind, supportive people who are there for one another when the chips are down. And at times during her tenure in this position, her chips have indeed been down. I recall a mysterious bottle of scotch awaiting her on her desk the day following our awful break in, to replace the bottle that was pilfered.
By supporting J., her colleagues’ kindness has extended to me as well. J.’s workmates have sent many a comforting text our way while we’ve been in the ER waiting to see how sick I really am. They’ve also been understanding when she’s had to reschedule meetings or reassign duties in her absence.
Finally, there’s the icing, J.’s boss, who prefers not to be called her boss, so let’s call her Ms. Boss, shall we? Ms. Boss has given J. the leeway to get her work done while caring for me. Thus J. has stayed in close contact from doctors’ offices and hospital rooms. Ms. Boss has encouraged J. to be with me through every medical crisis. She has shown tremendous kindness to J., and through J. to me, over their time together.
So enjoy your retirement, J. You deserve it. But don’t forget there are losses for me, too. I’ll have to start keeping the house tidy during the day, for example. That may indeed kill me.